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MERCHANT ADVENTURERS 650

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MERCHANT ADVENTURERS 650

    ADVENTURERS’ 650

    PLAY ONE

    ‘THE SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE’

    1357 -1600

     1

    THE SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE

SCENE ONE: BEGINNINGS

An empty stage. Using blue cloth the company of actors form the River Foss. A

    Banner is lifted it reads ‘1357’.

The FOREMAN enters.

FOREMAN: A patch of land. A River. Quiet. The perfect place to start an

    adventure. Bring them in, lads!

The Company form a boat bringing materials to build the Hall. Perhaps a work song

    is sung. The boat image dissolves and the company are hard at work building, all

    except ROBIN who is taking a nap.

    FOREMAN: I am the foreman. The man at the front of things. I see what’s

    ahead and what’s to be done. I see the future.

    BUILDER 1: What have we got?

ALL: Wood!

BUILDER 2: The finest timber.

BUILDER 3: Oak. The strongest.

BUILDER 4: And the best.

BUILDER 5: One hundred trees. All cut down from the Vale of York.

BUILDER 6: Home grown like us.

BUILDER 1: What else we got?

BUILDER 7: Back ache?

     All the cast groan and show how much their backs ache.

BUILDER 8: Splinters?

    All the cast mime plucking painful splinters from their hands.

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FOREMAN: Pride. What you do with your hands will stand the test of time.

    You are craftsmen. The very best.

Robin snores and rolls over. No-one notices.

BUILDER 1: What else we got?

ALL: Pride!

BUILDER 1: And stone.

FOREMAN: And because this is a step of faith we will have -

BUILDER 9: Bricks from the Friars!

BUILDER 10: Twenty thousand of them.

BUILDER 11: How many?

    BUILDER 12: It’s a big job.

FOREMAN: It’s good to be ambitious. To be brave. That’s what this place is

    all about.

BUILDER 1: We’re nearly done. What have we built, lads?

BUILDER 13: A Great Hall.

BUILDER And an Undercroft!

BUILDER 15: A place to do bold business.

BUILDER 16: Only one thing is missing.

ALL: A Roof!

Robin wakes up with a start.

ROBIN: A Roof? I’ll get the thatch. (To audience, with a wink) It’s very

    comfortable to sleep on.

BUILDER 1: And what do you think you’re doing?

ROBIN: Getting the thatch for the roof.

BUILDER 1: This boy has no vision. Thatch will catch fire. It won’t last.

ROBIN: It’s cheaper.

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BUILDER 1: Not in the long run. Ours will be tiled. Anyway, we’re

    interested in quality.

    ROBIN: (Disappointed) Are we? Isn’t that a lot more work? FOREMAN: A finely constructed roof. (Holds plans) I have it all here. We

    take the timber.

BUILDER 17: We mark the beams.

BUILDER 18: We build it on the ground.

FOREMAN: Then, when everything is finally ready.

BUILDER 1: What do we do, lads?

The cast stop their building work and mime lifting up huge roof.

ALL: WE RAISE THE ROOF!

    Another banner is raised. It reads ‘1361’. Everyone applauds.

FOREMAN: Four years it took. Four years of lugging, hammering and

    building. Then the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall was built.

     But that was just the beginning.

SCENE 2: GOOD FORTUNE

Robin, the apprentice, is asleep and snoring again. His master, THOMAS, arrives.

THOMAS: Robin! Asleep again! I have the worst apprentice in the whole

    of York. You are part of ‘The Fraternity and Guild of Our

    Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary’.

ROBIN: (To Audience) Someone has got to come up with a better name

    than that.

THOMAS: Yet you were asleep in the middle of a working day!

ROBIN: I wasn’t sleeping. I was thinking…with my eyes closed.

THOMAS: You were snoring.

ROBIN: Snoring? Me? Never. I was counting. Then, I fell asleep. But

    that’s not my fault.

THOMAS: No?

ROBIN: It’s all your fault.

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THOMAS: My fault?

ROBIN: True or false? You are a Mercer.

    THOMAS: True. We sell woollen cloth abroad.

ROBIN: Wool comes from sheep.

THOMAS: True.

ROBIN: To know how much wool you have to make the cloth, to sell

    abroad, to know how much money you will make, you need to

    know how many sheep are giving up their coats.

THOMAS: Uhhh…true.

ROBIN: So, as a good apprentice should, I was looking through the

    accounts and counting the sheep. That is why I fell asleep. And

    you were not here to keep me awake. It’s your fault.

    THOMAS: I was praying in the Chapel. ‘Dieu Nous Donne Bonne

    Adventure’ – May God give us good fortune. Our ships are

    travelling along our humble river. Out from our doorstep onto

    the dangerous sea. I was asking for His help.

     ROBIN: Is that why a chapel was built?

THOMAS: Our trade is a risky one. Business and faith go hand in hand.

A song of worship is sung and the company create the Chapel. Thomas kneels and

    prays, as do other Merchant Adventurers. After the prayer a group of Merchant

    adventurers are looking concerned. They gather together in heated group discussion.

SCENE 3: RISKY BUISNESS

     thA Fanfare. King Henry 6 is on his throne. He presents a Merchant Adventurer with

    a scroll. The image of the Royal court dissolves. All gather round it and discuss the

    matter.

    A Banner is raised. It read 107 Years Later 1468’

MERCHANT 1: Times have changed.

    MERCHANT 2: Our name has changed. The old King himself

     thMERCHANT 3: His Royal Majesty King Henry the 6 saw fit to allow us to thchange our name. His Majesty Edward 4 allows us to keep it.

    MERCHANT 4: We are no longer ‘The Fraternity and Guild of Our Lord Jesus

    Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary’.

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    MERCHANT 5: But ‘The Mistery of Mercers of York’. Mistery is a good word.

MERCHANT 6: I prefer ‘guild of mercers’. We should tell it like it is.

    MERCHANT 7: Nonsense. Misteri or ‘guild’? What does it matter? They both

    mean the same thing.

MERCHANT 8: I like the title. It has less religion in it.

MERCHANT 9: But faith and business still go hand in hand. My ship has still

    not returned and I am worried for it.

MERCHANT 10: The Valentyne? But Thomas is on that ship.

MERCHANT 11: Not just one Thomas but three! Thomas Neleson, Thomas

    Wrangwish and Thomas Scotten. All are on board risking the

    seas for good fortune.

The Valentyne ship with its magnificent sails is formed. The three Merchant

    Adventurers are about to dock near Copenhagen.

A Banner is raised. It reads ‘Copenhagen’

SAILOR 1: Lay Anchor!

SAILOR 2: Lay Anchor.

SAILOR 3: Lay Anchor.

The ship lowers its anchor and it comes to a standstill.

NELESON: We’ve arrived.

SCOTTEN: A good journey.

WRANGWISH: I hope the people of Denmark are in a buying mood. We have a

    lot of cloth.

SCOTTEN: 5,000 Pounds worth. It would take a man on a good wage to

    work 821 years to earn that amount! We are sitting on a fortune.

NELESON: I think we can afford some lunch! Shall we take the rowing

    boat ashore? Let the sailors finish up

SCOTTEN: Thomas? Why is that ship sailing directly towards us?

NELESON: Where? Oh. Perhaps they can’t wait to do some shopping.

WRANGWISH: There’s more of them. They’re coming from every direction.

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NELESON: Business is booming.

    SCOTTEN: I don’t think they’re here to do business. They’re armed. Look!

There is a huge clamour of noise as the Valentyne is boarded by armed men. A fight

    ensues. Some men are killed and the three merchants are soon captured. One of the

    leaders of the assault, HANS SEVOIS, steps forward.

HANS: You English Merchants are not welcome here.

    NELESON: We’ve just come to trade honestly. It’s just business.

HANS: We understand why you are here.

Another leader, LAWRENCE WOLFF steps forward.

    WOLFF: We are Merchants, like you. But you are threatening our trade.

Another leader, PETER REUKENE, steps forward.

    PETER: And so we are putting you out of business. (To one of his men)

    Unload the cloth from the hold. We will share it between us.

There is a large cheer from the pirate merchants.

SCOTTEN: You can’t do this. You’ll ruin us!

NELESON: Be quiet! They might kill us.

WOLFF: Kill you? That’s a good idea.

HANS: NO! Take them ashore. Put them in prison.

WRANGWISH: Prison? For how long?

    HANS: For ever, Mister Wrangwish. For ever.

Hans gives a signal and the unfortunate York Adventurers are dragged off to Prison.

    Back at the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall…

    MERCHANT 9: The Hanseatic League. They are no better than pirates!

    MERCHANT 10: We have always been honest and fair in our dealings. MERCHANT 9: I have petitioned the King. Until our friends are released

    and our goods returned I am asking him to confiscate all the

    goods of Hanse Merchants working here.

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MERCHANT 8: And will he do it?

MERCHANT 9: I do not know.

MERCHANT 10: There will always be those in business who seek to swindle

     And steal. At least we have always tried to do what is right.

SCENE 4: FAIR TRADE

A banner is raised. It reads ‘ ‘1581’. A Fanfare, this time it is Queen Elizabeth on the

    throne and she presents to the Merchant Adventurers another scroll. The image of the

    Royal court dissolves. We are in the home of ROBERT, A Merchant Adventurer, who

    is playing with his son EDWARD. His wife MARGARET is embroidering a garment

    with the help of his daughter, ROSE.

ROBERT: Queen Elizabeth has granted us our finest title yet. The Society

    of Merchants Adventurers. It’s an apt name. Very fitting.

ROSE: Father, may I one day be a Merchant Adventurer?

EDWARD: You? You’re a girl. Girls can’t adventure. They’re not brave

    enough.

MARGARET: Or be a merchant, I suppose?

    EDWARD: A lady merchant? (He laughs and Rose gets angry and attacks

    him. Edward easily overpowers her and pins her to the ground)

    You see! Girls are useless.

ROBERT: Edward, what is your Mother doing?

Edward lets his sister go and looks over.

    EDWARD: I don’t know. Sewing.

ROBERT: She is using her skill to make something. Can you make

    anything?

ROSE: He can make trouble.

    EDWARD: Close your mouth, dungbreath.

ROSE: Open your brain, doorknob.

MARGARET: That’s enough!

ROBERT: Who is the most powerful person in England?

    ROSE: The Queen! And she’s a girl!

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EDWARD: Queens are different. They’re born Queens, they don’t have to

    do anything.

MARGARET: For us the Queen has done more than her Father did. She has

    given us a Charter. Control over all the things brought into

    York for people to sell. We can make sure people trade well

    and fairly. It is a woman who has given us the key to our

    current prosperity.

ROBERT: Do you know Edward that there are two ways to become a

    Merchant Adventurer. One is called Patrimony which means

    that because you are my child you can become a Merchant

    Adventurer.

EDWARD: (Excited) So I can become one!

ROBERT: The other way is by nomination. You have to be invited by the

    other Merchant Adventurers. You would get in because of your

    birth but your sister by her skill.

EDWARD: But she’s a girl!

MARGARET: There have been many women who have been Merchant

    Adventurers. Over a hundred years ago, Marion Kent helped

    draw up new rules on trading. Better rules.

ROBERT: Merchant Adventurers become so because they have the skill

    and will to do good business. They are willing to take risks it

    doesn’t matter if they are men or women.

    ROSE: (Holding up the garment) This has cost 6 shillings to make.

EDWARD: So.

    ROSE: So, I’m going to sell it for twelve! (She exits)

    EDWARD: That’s double! Mother?

MARGARET: Yes, Edward.

EDWARD: Will you teach me how to make dresses?

ROBERT: That’s the spirit!

SCENE FIVE: THE BUILDERS ARE BACK

A Banner is raised. It reads ‘1570 – 1600’. The Foreman enters.

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    FOREMAN: The Merchant Adventurer’s hall. A River is the road they use

    to take themselves around the world. The road is unstable,

    business has had its ups and downs. But their risks have paid

    off. Bring them in, lads!

The Company form a boat bringing materials to improve the Hall. Perhaps a work

    song is sung once more? The Boat image dissolves and the company are hard at work.

    BUILDER 1: What have we got?

ALL: Wood!

BUILDER 2: The finest timber.

BUILDER 1: What else we got?

BUILDER 9: Muscle cramps?

BUILDER 10: (Accidentally hitting thumb with a hammer) Sore thumbs?

FOREMAN: Pride. What you have done with your hands has stood the test

    of time.

BUILDER 1: What else we got?

ALL: Pride!

BUILDER 1: And more work to be done!

BUILDER 3: The Merchant Adventurers are doing good business.

    BUILDER 4: They want to add fireplaces

BUILDER 5: and chimneys!

    BUILDER 6: (Coughing) So life isn’t so smoky!

FOREMAN: So they can see the way ahead.

    BUILDER 7: We’re redoing the walls!

BUILDER 8: And adding new rooms!

BUILDER 11: Because more people are becoming adventurers.

BUILDER 12: One York Freeman for every nine have joined!

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